Beak Speak 1 of 2
Oct 15, 2018
Darwin’s Finches – Differential Evolution
Part I of 2
During a visit to the Galapagos Islands in the early 1800’s, naturalist Charles Darwin found an intriguing group of finches. Each had a different way of feeding, and, correspondingly, a different type of bill. Now thought to represent 14 different species, Darwin’s finches apparently descended from a songbird that had flown off-course during a flight to or from South America.
With beaks ranging from strong, conical seed crushers to thin insect-eaters, these birds provided a basis for the evolutionary principles Darwin later formulated in his renowned work, “The Origin of Species.” (Note: the Woodpecker Finch used its bill to hold a twig and probe the bark of trees for insects).
For Darwin, these distinctive finches were evidence that developing species adapt, through natural selection, to exploit different niches in their environment.
Next time: Convergent Evolution!